All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Cultivate Joy

Homily, July 3, 2016, Proper 9
Andy Guffey

Isaiah 66:10-14 Psalm 66:1-8 Galatians 6:7-16 Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

As I was reading the texts for this week, what stuck out to me was joy. Isaiah says, "Rejoice with Jerusalem." The Psalm says to shout with joy. Which is sort of appropriate for the Fourth of July weekend. Happy Independence Day weekend, by the way! I don't know about for you, but for me, the Fourth of July weekend was always a fun weekend. When I was a kid, I celebrated the independence of this nation by stuffing my face with hotdogs and cake, and by feeding my inner pyromaniac—lots of little things that go boom! Wheee! The only memorial of those celebrations were sugar crashes, sun burns, and scorched earth. You know, fun. The idea, of course is that we were celebrating our country and its freedoms.

One might get the impression that the reading from Isaiah is also about patriotism: "Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her—that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast, that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious bosom." I won't even go into the Freudian turns and twists of this passage. But certainly, the patriotic language is not foreign to our ears. It doesn't sound so different from "God Bless America!" "My Country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing!" But that's not what the author of Isaiah 66 was doing. Maybe you noticed that I left a little line out: "Rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her." By the time our author is writing these lines, Jerusalem is in ruins, crushed by the Babylonians. In the midst of mourning, the author of these lines does not give in to despair, but rather cultivates joy. In response to utter tragedy, the author of this passage says to rejoice.

In Jewish tradition, it is expected that one cultivates joy on the Sabbath and on certain other festivals. As one author puts it: "The Sabbath is no time for personal anxiety or care, for any activity that might dampen the spirit of joy. ...[T]he Sabbath was given to us by God for joy, for delight, for rest, and should not be marred by worry or grief" (A. J. Heschel, Sabbath, 30).

The Desert Fathers of Christian tradition—those austere, holy persons of the early years of Christianity, some of whom only ate raw vegetables or prescribed for themselves other harsh ascetic practices—no hotdogs and DEFINITELY no cake for them—the Desert Fathers also recognized the importance of cultivating joy. There is a story about a certain Father Apollo, who lived in the Egyptian desert. His disciples apparently only ate one meal a day, after Eucharist. I would think they'd be pretty miserable! If it were me, I think I'd be hangry most of the time. But, the story goes right on to say, "Nevertheless, one could see them in the desert filled with a joy and a bodily contentment such as one cannot see anywhere else. For nobody was gloomy or downcast." And if anyone did seem a bit glum, Father Apollo would counsel them, until the root of the joylessness was discovered.

Both in Jewish tradition and in our Christian tradition, cultivating joy has been part of who we are and what we do. Because fundamentally, cultivating joy is about desiring God, trusting in God, hoping in God. Enjoying God. That's why today's Psalm says: "Be joyful in God all you lands!"

But, as another Psalm says, "How can we sing the Lord's song in a foreign land?" Right now—and very often—there does not seem to be much to rejoice in—there's Orlando, of course, but also now the murder of hostages in Bangladesh, a bombing in Istanbul, a perplexing Brexit, and that's not even to mention the dubious fate of Chicago Public Schools, nor to mention the daily rise of gun violence in this city. Sometimes it seems we don't have time for joy; there's work to do. Or even worse, it just doesn't seem appropriate to find cause for joy. We feel that we are not free to rejoice. But that is precisely why we need to cultivate joy, to seek it out, to find the freedom to be joyful.

As most of you probably know, Elie Wiesel died yesterday. Most of you are probably familiar with Wiesel's work. A survivor of the Shoah, the Holocaust, author of several books, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. You probably are familiar with his autobiographical story of the Holocaust, Night. Wiesel was determined for the rest of his life that he would never allow the world to forget. As he constantly said, he lived to bear witness. "I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented." Wiesel was not a perfect spokesman for these words, but he knew the horrors of the world, and our responsibility to confront them.

One might easily get the impression that Wiesel was a man with little time for joy. He was a serious man, to be sure. But he also was devoted to the Hasidic way of Judaism. And one of the hallmarks of Hasidic Judaism is joy. I was listening to one of his lectures yesterday, and he told a story, as he is wont to do. It goes like this: A Hasid came to a rabbi, and he said, "Rabbi, I feel crushed, so terrible is my anguish. I have so many obligations, so many mouths to feed, so many deaths to mourn. I cannot bear it any more. The old Rabbi took his hand and asked, "Do you want me to weep for you? To mix my tears with yours? Is that what you want?" "Yes," whispered Hasid. "At least, it will make me feel better. I will know that you at least understand me, that you share in my suffering. Weep for me, then. Weep with me, and I will thank you. I will thank you with all my heart. But the Rabbi looked at him for a long moment, and shook his head, No. That's not what we must do. Weeping is no solution. Instead, I shall sing. And you shall sing with me. I know it's not easy, and why should it be? But we shall sing nevertheless. As Wiesel says, there was no good reason in the world for them to feel better, but they did.

Cultivating joy is contagious, and it doesn't just happen when we feel like it. We need each other. To remind each other of the source of our joy—which is not the same as mere happiness. Sometimes, our yearning for God, for justice, for peace, flows from the crucifixion, from pain and oppression, and we cry out, "How long, O Lord?!" But cultivating joy reminds us of the joy and hope of resurrection. God is making all things new, if we will only let ourselves see it. If we will only sing together. The crucifixion and the resurrection go hand-in-hand. No resurrection without the indelible memory of catastrophe; no crucifixion without the hope and joy of new life, without the recognition of beauty in the world and all around us.

In the wake of Orlando, a number of folks posted pictures of people coming together. Of Orthodox Jews visiting a gay night club in a show of solidarity and compassion, of Muslims holding vigil at Pulse. Communities coming together to grieve together at the Stonewall, and in Boystown. One of my Canterbury Northwestern students was in NYC, and he went to the Stonewall, where he took a picture of the crowd that had gathered, embracing each other and showing each other grace. The caption on the picture said, "Love wins. Love will always win." Cultivating joy.

Whenever we perceive, if only out of the corner of our eye, the beauty of the world, in our children's voices, in sunlight-bathed flowers, in an absolutely gorgeous Fourth of July weekend, and whatever it is that gives us delight—we cultivate joy. And we should be witnesses of that joy, giving thanks for it as often as we can. As Wiesel once said, "If the only prayer you say throughout your life is 'Thank you,' that will be enough." Because in those simple words, the free love of God who is absolutely free of anger toward all creation, wells up, surprising us with the freedom to find our joy, too.


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Dear Friends,

Tomorrow afternoon I'll hit a milestone that astonishes me. I'm honored to be officiating at Kate Gannett and Jamison Merrill's wedding. Katie was one of the five or six little ones who were here at All Saints when I first arrived almost 25 years ago. She was five years old... Now she's working on a graduate degree at Johns Hopkins. She and Jamison met while working in South Africa.

So much has changed since then and yet this community of faith, although much bigger (and heaven knows our building looks much better), retains the same "let's just give this a try and see what happens" spirit. Back then we had Clyde Propst and a few dedicated church school teachers who were willing to give their time to be with our young people and let them know that they mattered. Today we still have Clyde Propst, and more than 10 other people, working with and serving our young ones. In addition, one of the little ones from back in the day, Hilary Waldron, now facilitates our incredibly active 7-12 grade youth group. Taking young people seriously can make a huge difference in their lives! I am so grateful to our nursery, church school teachers, and youth group advisors. Thank you for all that you do and give.

This weekend, in addition to Kate's wedding, I'll be getting my sermon ready for Sunday and anticipating our amazing end-of-the-church-school-ice-cream social. 

Colin and the choir will be creating some lovely music and Emily will be catching some time away after an incredibly packed Spring!

I look forward to seeing you all on Sunday!

All the best,


The last few Sundays of our church school year are quickly approaching:

Sunday, June 18th - The Annual Ice Cream Social when church school hosts coffee hour and what's better than ice cream! There will be a variety of ice cream flavors and many possible toppings for do-it-yourself Sundaes served on the lawn in front of the church. Children help with set up serve (and eating!) ice cream, and clearing away the debris

The rest of June and July - Although Sunday school classes do not meet at 10 during the summer, Atrium I will continue to be open during the 9 o'clock service until the end of July. Atrium I children who attend the 11 o'clock service will be welcome in the nursery during the service.

At 10 o'clock children are encouraged to come help water, weed and harvest vegetables from the garden we're planting to support the Ravenswood Services Community Kitchen.


redbirdUnderstanding Vocation in a Complex World

Parishioner Liz Futrell and her colleague Kate Rademacher both work in international public health with a focus on trying to increase access to contraception for women in developing countries. Both women feel a sense of vocation in this work. However, with birth control remaining a controversial topic in the political and religious landscapes, understanding this work as a vocational calling can raise challenging questions. Liz and Kate will talk about how their work intersects with their faith. Kate will read from her new memoir about her recent conversion to Christianity, and Liz will read from a piece about her career path that's been included in a new anthology of women's stories.

Discussion will take place Sunday, June 25, during coffee hour. There will be time for open discussion and the group will be invited to share their experiences and thoughts about discernment and understanding vocation.


revelationsMonday nights at 7:30, Beginning July 10

Bible study is back! If the current U.S. presidency and administration is causing you to wonder if we're living in "apocalyptic times," then studying the Book of Revelation is perfect for this summer's Bible study! The Monday nights for this, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. (6 to 7:15 p.m. for dinner beforehand at O'Shaughnessy's), are July 10, 17, 24 and 31.

Your "tour guide" on this journey will be parishioner Jerome Wilczynski. Jerome holds a Master's degree in Systematic Theology and New Testament from Catholic Theological Union, and a Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology. He is Associate Professor/Core Faculty in the department of Counselor Education and Supervision at Argosy University, Chicago. The point of our study will be to de-mystify this all too often misunderstood text from Scripture. The main commentary Jerome will use to assist us in unearthing the rich symbolism of this book will be Wilfrid Harrington's Revelation from the Sacra Pagina series, in case you want to buy it—but don't feel you have to.


Summer Lineup Selected
The All Saints Book Club met on May 11th and decided on a lineup of books for the next year. The book club is open to anyone who enjoys reading. The meetings start at 7:30 PM usually at the home of a member. The locations and further details are on our Facebook page
Here is the schedule for the next several months:
  • July 13 -  "The Warmth of Other Suns" by Isabel Wilkerson
  • August 10 - "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" by John Berendt
  • September 14 - "Operation Breadbasket" by Martin Deppe
  • For additional information, contact Mike Burke (


    Individual Actions Towards Racial Equality

    Volunteer Opportunities, Events, and Recommendations

    (re)imagining: Racial Justice Summit Sponsored by YWCA Evanston/North Shore:

    Thursday, April 6 from 6 - 8 pm
    Friday, April 7 from 9 am - 4 pm
    Unitarian Church of Evanston
    1330 Ridge Ave., Evanston, IL
    Goal: "To bring people of all ages and demographics together to deepen their understanding of their own racial identities, develop skills to work for change, formulate action plans and engage with others."

    For Information and Registration, click here

    "The Scottsboro Boys" at Porchlight Theater through March 12th
    A musical production that is getting rave reviews, "nominated for 12 Tony Awards, and presented in the style of the notorious "minstrel show", this true-life story of nine African American teenagers accused and put on trial in Memphis for a crime they did not commit is one America's most notorious episodes of injustice; inaugurating a wave of social changes leading up to the modern Civil Rights Movement."

    For information and ticket prices, click here

    Suggested reading, non-fiction: 
    Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson, January, 2017

    This book has been described as "...a provocative and deeply personal call for change. Dyson argues that if we are to make real racial progress we must face difficult truths, including being honest about how black grievance has been ignored, dismissed, or discounted."

    Recommended as a "companion piece to the film rather than a stand-alone book." One reviewer recommended "seeing the film first, and then using the book for meditation and revisiting afterward."

    Volunteer opportunity: GROWING HOME "We have a vision of a world of healthy people and communities. Everyone deserves to have a good job, and everyone deserves to eat well." Since 2002, Growing Home has trained and employed and, most importantly, given a second chance to people with employment barriers. You may be familiar with their Wood Street farm in Englewood. Their farms are the first and only USDA-certified organic high-production urban farms in Chicago, and because they strive to also feed their community well, all their produce is grown, harvested, cleaned, and sold within a 20-mile radius. Read more at

    Volunteer opportunity: Non-profit Reading In Motion has successfully refined its mission over its 30+ years to help give kindergarten and first grade students foundational reading skills they need to start on a path for lifetime learning. They partner with public school teachers and have been extremely successful in making a difference in children's lives. Click here for more info.


    We're running low on paper and reusable bags for our Tuesday night pantry. Please bring us your extras! 
    We will be taking donations on Tuesday evenings, M-F 9am-4pm, and on Sundays during church services. Look for the bins by the doors. Thanks for your help!

     Sundays at 2pm

    breakersbibleWe are very excited to announce that every Sunday at 2:00 pm, All Saints' offers something new at the Breakers - An Evening Prayer Service! Our first event was Sunday, December 4th, and went marvelously well - we had 13 attendees! Folks are very pleased that there's a Protestant service being offered in addition to the current choices (which are Catholic and Moody Bible.) The Prayer Service itself is printed in large print and in bulletin style with scripture taken each week from the Common Lectionary.

    The weekly service starts at 2:00 pm, upstairs on the second floor Meditation Room, and lasts about 15 minutes. Please contact Paul Mallatt if you have questions, or comments at 773-860-4649. When you can, stop by the Breakers (5333 N Sheridan Rd) where the parking is free (for 2 hours), the coffee is hot, and the folks are friendly!


    Jeff Lee
    Dear Polly and All Saint's Kids,
    I am writing to you from a meeting of the board of Episcopal Relief & Development in Bogota, Columbia. We are meeting here to visit some of our partner ministries with people in need. I have seen the amazing results of this year's bake sale (in fact, I'm looking at photos of some of the cakes - wow!), and you have reminded me that we don't have to travel to Columbia or South Sudan to make a huge impact for the good of God's people.
    I am so proud and grateful for you and the work you do. You guys are heroes. Our friends in South Sudan will be blessed by your effort.
    In Christ,
    Jeffrey D. Lee
    Bishop of Chicago

    Sundays at 10am

    The phrase Imago Dei means the Image of God. Specifically, the image of God as it is found in humanity. The image of God in us - it is what makes us spiritual people - valued as whole and complete. What does it mean to creatively live as whole people? How do we live in relationship with others - respecting and sharing one another's security and one another's discomfort?

    Join us on Sunday mornings between services as we figure out together how to help one another take practical responsibility for living in this world - especially as racial and spiritual beings.

    True - our time will be uncomfortable because it will mean talking about race, violence, personal helplessness, and personal failure. Also true - this will be comforting and supportive because it will mean getting to be honest, practicing together, and caring for one another.

    Every week we will ask one another "What have you done in these past 7 days with who you are and within your sphere of influence when it comes to the realities of race?" the answers will be different for each person and it won't be a competition. We will be lifting up the everyday choices we make and don't make. Sometimes we will like what happens and sometimes we won't.

    And - we will be doing it together.

    The Middle Eastern refugees and immigrants served by the Iraqi Mutual Aid Society were deeply moved by the notes of welcome from All Saints. We shared them at our community lunch on Thursday, and now they will hang in our conference room to remind people of your warm welcome in the days to come. Thanks!

    Laura Youngberg

    breadbakersSignup online to bake for a month

    Calling all bakers! If you love the smell of fresh-baked bread filling your kitchen, please consider signing up to bake communion bread for our services. This involves a one-month commitment that you'll share with another baker, and you can do all your baking at once and add to the reserves in our freezer.

    Signing up is easy, just click here for our page on Signup Genius and reserve your favorite month.

    Contact Jennifer Simokaitis, or Anne Ellis if you have any questions.

    Yard Signs Available 

    Grow Community has created yard signs for anyone who would like to display support for our local public high schools. Signs and sign holders are available in the Reading Room.



    Tuesdays 6:15-8:00pm 


    RCS is looking for help serving and cleaning up after dinner on Tuesdays from 6:15-8:00pm.
    If you're able to volunteer, contact Emily or Operations Manager Parker Callahan, or call 773-769-0282.


    helloDo you feel called to create an open, welcoming, hospitable environment at All Saints? Do you like meeting and connecting with people? Join the new Hospitality Ministry! Members of the Hospitality Ministry will help the clergy and vestry create a welcoming culture by greeting new members, engaging new faces at coffee hour, and helping connect new members of All Saints with our various programs.

    Interested? Contact Diane Doran or Michelle Mayes. Include "Hospitality Ministry" in the subject line.

    Our new Associate Rector, Emily Williams Guffey, is enjoying getting to know everyone in our congregation. Help her put names and faces together by adding yourself to our online directory!

    If you are a member of All Saints' and haven't already registered for the directory, please contact our resident web guru Jim Crandall at and he will send a user name, password, and instructions.

    Join the All Saints' Care Ministry! 

    casseroleThe Care Ministry at All Saints' is a quiet one, simply providing meals after a new baby arrives, after surgery, during an illness. Because when life gets complicated, dinner is often the last thing on our minds--but sometimes a meal and visit from a friend is exactly what we need!

    If you can provide a meal, give someone a ride, or run an errand once in awhile, please email You'll be contacted when a need arises and you can sign up to help at your convenience.


    tinaParishioner, Tina Tchen, accepts Bishop Maryann Budde's invitation to preach at the National Cathedral Sunday, May 8. Click here to see the video.


    Please consider supporting the restoration project of our historic building. To make a donation, click here

    1883 Construction web 

    This week’s stories of the bell tower: The beams and posts in the bell tower are being filled with epoxy and fungicide to prevent future insect damage and to restore their strength and integrity. Here are some photos of the work currently taking place. Everywhere you see white is where the post or beam is being rebuilt, restored and protected.
    The blue hue in the photo is from the tarp surrounding the bell tower enabling Ron Young and his crew to continue working in the dropping temperatures.

    Here is a collection of photos of the progress of our 1883 Project. Here is a collection of bell tower photos. Check back often for updates.

    Sunday Service Times

    8:00 am Inclusive Language Eucharist
    9:00 am Holy Eucharist with Choir
    10:00 am Children's Church School
    10:00 am Coffee Hour
    11:00 am Holy Eucharist with Choir


    Contact Us

    4550 N. Hermitage in Chicago, IL 60640 (Directions)

    Phone (773) 561-0111


    Information about pastoral care.


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    Bonnie on Huffington Post

    Occasionally Bonnie's sermons are published on the Huffington Post. Here are some links.

    Pain. Change. Hope.

    November 15, 2015

    What Does St. Francis of Assisi Have to Say to Us Today?

    October 4, 2015

    Wake Up Calls

    September 6, 2015

    Christmas Reminds Us That We, Like God, Are Human, Too

    December 24, 2014

    The Deep Sleep of Racial Oblivion: One Pastor's Sin of Omission

    November 30, 2014

    Pulpit Swap

    The Pulpit Swap between St Thomas and All Saints is part of our ongoing effort to bring our parishes closer together as we engage in a conversation about systemic racism and how we can work together to forge new possibilities and outcomes.

    Going Home—Changed

    Pulpit Swap Sermon By The Rev Bonnie Perry of All Saints Episcopal Church on October 16, 2016.  

    When Prayers Go Unanswered

    Pulpit Swap Sermon By The Rev Dr Fulton L Porter celebrating at All Saints Episcopal Church on Oct16 2016.